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Berlinale Blogger 2018
#BerlinalePeople: Jesse Cumming, programmer/critic

Jesse Cumming
Jesse Cumming | © Jesse Cumming

In this interview, Jesse Cumming, film curator and author from Toronto, lets us know which colleagues he is most looking forward to see at the Berlinale. In addition, Cumming, also a member of the Berlinale Talent Press, reveals what he wants to do first after the Berlinale.

By Jutta Brendemühl

Name and role: Jesse Cumming, Toronto-based film curator, programming associate (TIFF), writer (Cinema Scope, MUBI Notebook, The Brooklyn Rail), occasional publicist. Part of Berlin Critics' Week and Berlinale Talent Press 2018.

This is your 1st Berlinale – what’s your personal mission?
I already have too much I want to do. I’m an extremely slow writer, so I suppose one goal is to improve my efficiency as I work on my Talent Press coverage. Doing so will hopefully leave more time for exhibitions, Critics’ Week panels, meetings, catching up with friends and colleagues, and - natürlich - more films.
With your Berlin Critics’ Week hat on: What special role do your see for “cinema as a cultural space” right now?
There is no shortage of film or other media available these days, but so much of it is consumed and engaged in isolation. I admire the programming team from the critics' weeks for their commitment to screening challenging, divisive, and even confrontational works, then opening up a space to discuss and work through them in a shared space.
With your Berlinale Talent Press hat on (an initiative of Berlinale Talents in collaboration with FIPRESCI and the Goethe-Institut): Which of your 7 colleagues this year are you most curious to meet?
A great question! Everyone seems incredibly gifted and extremely interesting, but I'm particularly looking forward to meeting Domoina Ratsara from Madagascar. I know very little about the cinema of Madagascar, let alone the state of film and art criticism, and look forward to speaking with her about it.
Film you hope to see in the Berlinale line-up:
It might be premature, but I’m great admirer of the English filmmaker Joanna Hogg and would love to see something new from her at the festival. I know she’s been at work on a new film, but I also know she’s also an artist who takes her time...something I suppose we’re all the better for in the end, even if it means waiting.
Biggest possible distraction during Berlinale:
I feel like I’m losing a bit of my film festival stamina, so catching a full night’s sleep as often as possible might prove a worthwhile distraction, but I know that living in Kreuzberg surrounded by its exciting nightlife isn’t always conducive to that goal...
Right after Berlinale I will …: 
Read a book and go for a walk! I always need a bit of time away from screens after a festival. I’m also planning to see seeing Albert Serra’s new play at the Volksbühne, which I’m hoping will help me ease out of cinema-mode a bit more gently. 

Part of an ongoing series of mini profiles on the blog German Film @ Canada on the movers and shakers that make the Berlinale one of the most important events in the international film calendar: the filmmakers, programmers, curators, industry promoters and visitors, from rookies to veterans.